Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Public urged to remain vigilant to hazards of pesticide poisoning

Public urged to remain vigilant to hazards of pesticide poisoning

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (210/07) issued by The Government News Network on 10 July 2007

The Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) published its Annual Report today. The number of incidents in 2006 was slightly higher than 2005. The report lists cases in which wildlife - including beneficial insects and domestic animals - are suspected to have been put at risk or harmed by pesticides. It highlights the importance of using pesticides correctly. It also confirms that the abuse of pesticides - deliberately and illegally using them as poisons - makes up a significant proportion of all pesticide poisoning incidents.

Key results from the 2006 report include:
* A total of 390 incidents were reported, compared to 369 in 2005, and significantly down on earlier years when numbers were over 600. 111 of these cases were confirmed as being caused by pesticides, compared with 103 in 2005.
* There were two reported incidents arising from approved use of pesticides, both of these occurred in Scotland.
* 67 incidents were identified as resulting from deliberate abuse of pesticides (51 in 2005).
* There were 22 incidents reported as a result of misuse of pesticides (22 in 2005).
* 19 cases were reported in which the cause could not be reliably assigned to a particular category (24 in 2005).

Detailed information on incidents is now available through the web (at http://www.pesticides.gov.uk).

The public can help tackle illegal poisoning by reporting animal carcasses found in suspicious circumstances. Anyone finding a suspect carcass should contact Defra on freephone 0800 321 600 with details on the location of the incident, the number and type of casualties or the suspected baits, and why they believe pesticides may be involved. Do not risk exposure to possible poisoning by touching carcasses. Cover them to reduce risk of harm to other animals, but only if this can be done without putting yourself at risk.

Notes for Editors
1. The report 'Pesticide Poisoning of Animals in 2006: Investigations of Suspected Incidents in the United Kingdom' is available free of charge from Pesticides Safety Directorate, Mallard House, Kings Pool, York, YO1 7PX. The report is also available in Adobe Acrobat pdf format from a link at http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/environment.asp?id=58.

2. The Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme is operated by Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government Environment, Planning and Countryside Department, the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department and in Northern Ireland by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. The Scheme allows members of the public and interested parties to report incidents where they believe that pesticides have affected an animal, particularly wildlife or pets.

3. The number of confirmed pesticide incidents compared with the number of reported incidents over recent years is summarised in the table below:

Year        1998  1999  2000  2001  2002  2003  2004  2005  2006
      Reported     612   453   506   346   450   397   355   369   390
      Incidents
      Pesticide    185   139   162   109   131   126   104   103   111
      Incidents 


4. Information collected by the scheme is fed into the regulatory process for pesticides through the Environmental Panel of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP). Where evidence shows that legal use of a product poses a risk to animals, the ACP will consider what action is necessary to ensure continuing high standards of environmental safety. Approval of the product can be reviewed or withdrawn altogether.

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